By Desmond Ejibas, Port Harcourt.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it is collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2023.
Matthew Alao, UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, disclosed this at the opening of a two-day training, organised by UNDP in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Alao said that UNDP collaborated with INEC’s Election Monitoring Support Centre (EMSC) to train its Head of Departments (HODs) in South-South and South-East geopolitical zones to facilitate a successful conduct of the elections.
According to him, this is because a successful conduct of the elections will help deepen the Nigerian democracy and enable the country to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.
“UNDP will continue to assist INEC to achieve and sustain inclusive, transparent and credible electoral processes for peaceful and cohesive societies.
“This workshop intends to strengthen the capacity of INEC’s EMSC to ensure efficient planning, implementation and management of elections.
“Also, the training will help to strengthen the capacities of officers to counter disinformation, reinforce assurance and credibility in the election procedures.
“This is the main crux of UNDP’s partnership with INEC,” he said.
Alao stressed that Nigeria must continue to strive to develop its election processes, so that every key political stakeholder and the general voting public would trust the election outcomes.
“The current management of INEC has continued to build on the foundation laid by the commission over a decade ago, thereby improving public trust and confidence in the electoral processes.
“The performance of INEC in recent elections has been acknowledged by citizens and the international community. However, there is room for improvement.
“Election processes must continue to be conducted in a manner that electorates will believe that their votes will count and that the election umpire is impartial,” he added.
Prof. Mohammed Kuna, Special Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the EMSC was used by INEC to plan, monitor, track and implement election activities across the country.
He said that the EMSC had five key components, two of which enabled the commission to plan election activities and monitor election activities, while the third component helped to implement the election plans.
“The fourth component is to provide early warning, by helping INEC to identify internal and external threats to the election.
“The fifth element helps the centre to provide support to field officers and their activities, especially when officers are in distress while carrying out their duty.
“So, the EMSC has helped tremendously in our monitoring of election activities by providing INEC with real time visibility of the electoral process in the field,” he said.
Kuna said that similar training had been carried out for INEC HODs in Akure for the South-West geopolitical zone; Kano for the North-West geopolitical zone and Gombe for the North-East geopolitical zone.
On her part, Prof. Rhoda Gumus, INEC Commissioner in charge of Planning, Monitoring and Strategic Planning Committee (PMSC), gave assurance that INEC would conduct free and fair elections in 2023
She said that the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) meant that collation and transmission of election results would be seamless and transparent.
She said that the concluded elections in Osun and Ekiti States were a testament to the capacity of the BVAS to collate results in a transparent, credible and fair manner.
“So, we expect that all political parties, stakeholders will comply with the electoral laws before, during and after the elections,” she added.